Council fate uncertain

By Shardae Smith

The first College Council meeting of the academic year was held on Oct. 1 at the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Faculty and staff discussed important college matters, such as retention issues and the possible elimination of the council in favor of a

faculty senate.

The meeting was opened by John Green, chair of both the Theater Department and the College Council, who introduced the council’s new executive committee and conducted an election of a full-time faculty member to occupy a seat on the committee.

Music Department professor Sebastian Huydts was elected to fill the seat as well as the job of secretary for the council, which was recently vacated.

Green raised the question of altering the College Council to go along with the college’s strategic plans.

“It seems to me this council should also be in a period of transition,” Green said. “We should be preparing ourselves for the transition from College Council to a faculty senate.”

Although discussions are in progress for a such a senate, Green said still he will ideally be the last chair of the council, to be replaced down the road by the chair of the new government organization.

“This may or may not happen, but certainly this is the beginning of the end of College Council,” Green said. “This year, one of the tasks should be to prepare ourselves for a smooth transition … to a different governmental organization.”

Green said he’s interested in making sure the council continues to move forward and by the end of the year, makes strong recommendations to President Warrick L. Carter for change.

But Green’s statement didn’t sit well with some of the council members.

“I have some problems with what you just said,” said Louis Silverstein, distinguished professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department. “Unless that’s the decision made by some authority on top, I think that’s a decision to be made by the faculty. There’s still a discussion [to be had] among the faculty, and this is something the council needs to discuss.”

A faculty senate is needed for implementing college programs that need faculty input, according to Tom Nawrocki, associate professor in the English Department and president of the Columbia CollegeFaculty Organization.

“The College Council has modified itself at least three different times,” Nawrocki said. “This college council is at least 12–15 years old. We’ve grown tremendously, but one of the problems I see as a faculty member is when new programs need to be implemented, like the honors program, there was really no faculty organization to give feedback for that.”

Nawrocki said with a faculty senate, faculty members from all programs will be able to get involved and modify newly

developed programs.

Part-time faculty members are currently being considered for seats on the new senate, but no plans are definite. The organizational bylaws are currently being drafted, which will be presented for votes once they are finalized.

As for College Council, Nawrocki said he thinks it will continue to exist in a modified form as a place where faculty and staff will continue to meet and exchange information.

“I think College Council will have to continue,” Nawrocki said. “I can see many people at this table will be a part of the faculty senate, and others will be a part of the modified version of College Council.”

Also discussed was the response to the Strategic Planning Committee’s May 2010 recommendation of a $90,000 increase in faculty development grants. Instead, it was announced there would be a $35,000 increase for a total of $125,000.

The money is used to help full-time faculty continue professional projects to acquire or maintain tenure status, according to the college’s Faculty Development Committee.

Although this particular grant money is only available for full-time faculty, grants are available for part-time faculty seeking to continue projects as well.

“To restrict the ability for part-time faculty, and to continue their professional work is very objectionable,” said Fern Valfer, part-time faculty member in the Art and Design Department in response to the statement.